Courtesy of The Commercial Appeal/
Dave Darnell, Photographer
Antonio Maceo Walker was an African American businessman and president of Universal Life Insurance Company and Tri-State Bank, both in Memphis, Tennessee. Walker was born on June 7, 1909 in Indianola, Mississippi to Joseph and Lela Walker. His father, Joseph Edison Walker, founded Universal Life Insurance, and also was a medical doctor and entrepreneur.
Antonio Walker grew up in Memphis where he attended LeMoyne High School. He graduated from Fisk University in 1930 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He then attended graduate school at New York University where he earned his Master’s in Business Administration in 1932. In 1935 he earned a second Master’s degree in Actuarial Science from the University of Michigan. While in college, Walker worked as an insurance agent for his father’s company, Universal Life Insurance. After graduate school, Walker worked for Universal Life Insurance in the audit department, and was elected to the board of directors in 1935 at the age of 26.
In 1938 Walker married Harriette Ish and the couple had three children: Lily Patricia, Antonio Maceo, Jr., and Harriette Lucille Walker. After the death of his first wife, Harriette, he married Charlesteen Miles.
In 1946 Walker and his father, Joseph Edison Walker, co-founded the Tri-State Bank of Memphis. They established the Tri-State Bank primarily to help African American businesses receive loans since in many instances these enterprises were refused loans by white owned Memphis banks. In 1952 Walker succeeded his father as President of Universal Life Insurance. After his father’s death in 1958, he also became the President of Tri-State Bank.
Walker continued to serve as President of Universal Life Insurance until 1983, when he gave control of the company to his daughter, Patricia Walker Shaw. However, she died two years later, and Walker resumed his position as President of the company. He finally retired from the business world in 1990, resigning as the President of Universal Life Insurance and Tri-State Bank.
Antonio Maceo Walker died on June 8, 1994 in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 85.
Jet Magazine (June 27, 1994); Miriam DeCosta-Willis, Notable Black
Memphians (Amherst, New York: Cambria Press, 2008); Shirelle Phelps,
ed., Who's Who Among African Americans (Detroit: Gale Press, 1998);
University of Washington, Seattle